Apache Junction voters veto school district override, elect Acton after contentious race

While expressing disappointment about voters failing to pass a proposed 15 percent school budget override, the Apache Junction Unified School District superintendent also said the district will take a few weeks before making decisions over which budget cuts to make.

“It’s with disappointment and frustration that I report to you the November override initiative was unsuccessful,” AJUSD Superintendent Chad Wilson said in a video posted on the district’s website, www.ajusd.org.

The district’s first override passed in 1999 and was renewed in 2003. Further votes failed in May 2007 and November 2007, 2009 and 2010.

“We’re not going to make a knee jerk decision and we’re not going to make decisions that compromise the integrity of who we are,” Mr. Wilson said in the video. “We’re going to take the next couple weeks to let the emotions of the election settle down and then we’ll begin the process of looking at what financial solutions we have to achieve in order to move forward as an organization that provides kids a quality opportunity to learn.”

In the Nov. 4 general election, voters turned down the proposed 15 percent maintenance and operations budget override that would have raised approximately $3.2 million each year. According to the unofficial final results (19 of 19 precincts reporting) updated Nov. 10, the override received 6,065 “yes” votes and 7,946 “no” votes.

The override would have allowed the district to prevent large class sizes, improve school safety and offer competitive salaries to teachers, Mr. Wilson said in a Sept. 18 phone interview.

The district governing board voted in June to put the override on the ballot, Mr. Wilson said.

In a statement e-mailed to members of the news media late Nov. 5, Mr. Wilson said the district will have to cut “another $1.5 million from the 2015-16 budget.”

The governing board will vote in July to approve its budget for 2015-16. At its regular meeting July 15, 2014, the governing board approved a $23.8 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to a press release. It included a decrease of approximately $156,000 primarily due to a decrease in enrollment and a loss of $337,000 due to a drop in targeted government funding, according to the release.

In both the video and e-mailed statement, Mr. Wilson thanked the volunteers who spent their time and money to support the override initiative.

The video may be viewed on the school’s website and on YouTube.

In other school election news, incumbent Mike Weaver retained his seat on the AJUSD Governing Board. Unofficial final results (19 of 19 precincts reporting) show Mr. Weaver receiving 6,087 votes. He will be joined by newcomer Dena Kimble, who received 5,605 votes, according to unofficial final results. She will replace Lucy Young, whose term expires Dec. 14.

Candidate Cami Garcia received 4,448 and Kelli Anne Caplette received 3,870, according to unofficial final results.

Other local items include:

Constable (Pinal County Precinct 7): Unofficial final results (25 of 25 precincts reporting) show John Acton (Republican) winning with 14,308 votes and Victor Rodas (Independent) with 10,300. There were 96 write-in votes.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu had requested Mr. Acton formally withdraw from the race due to allegations of impersonating a police officer and falsifying his service as a Chicago police officer, according to a press release issued by Sheriff Babeu’s office.

“I was a police officer in Chicago (for the Chicago Transit Authority), not a member of the Chicago police force,” Mr. Acton told the Independent during an interview Oct. 8.

“I would like to thank everyone who went to the polls and voted for me on Tuesday,” Mr. Acton said in a prepared statement Nov. 7. “This was a hard-fought race and I can’t thank my supporters enough for their support and confidence in my ability to be their constable. I will serve the court with complete integrity and will work to make sure documents are served and associated administrative tasks are completed in a timely manner so that there are no lags in the system and both the court and clients will be well-served.”

Incumbent Shaun Babeu (Republican) ran unopposed for Justice of the Peace (Pinal County Precinct 7). Unofficial final results show him receiving 19,712 votes. There were 581 write-in votes.

In the race for Congressional District 4, which includes Apache Junction, Gold Canyon and San Tan Valley, the unofficial final results (211 of 211 precincts statewide reporting) show incumbent Paul Gosar (Republican) winning with 121,848 votes, followed by Mike Weisser (Democrat) with 45,002 and Chris Rike (Libertarian) with 7,377. There were 164 write-in votes.

In the race for Congressional District 5, which includes Apache Junction and Gold Canyon, the unofficial results (113 of 113 precincts reporting) show Matt Salmon (Republican) receiving 124,801 votes with James Woods (Democrat) receiving 54,575. There were 313 write-in votes.

In the race for state representative District 16, which includes Apache Junction and Gold Canyon, voters re-elected the two incumbents. The unofficial final results show incumbents Doug Coleman (Republican) and Kelly Townsend (Republican) winning with 28,904 and 28,293 votes, respectively. Cara Prior (Republican) received 11,773 votes, and there were 160 write-in votes, according to the unofficial results.

For the latest for Pinal County, go to the Pinal County elections website.

For the latest state results, go to the state elections website.

The Apache Junction Independent is mailed each month to 35,000 homes.

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